The Spider's Mistake

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The Spider's Mistake

Post by Angelic »

CW: Death, blood, etc.

“I don’t understand.”

An older man, just past his middling age, looked up from the plate of potatoes and glistening slices of roast he’d been devouring in a way that reminded Ansel of a slovenly hog scooping slop from a trough, bits of bread and droplets of gravy stuck in the peppered grey mustache. Usually, he would make use of the napkin in his hand to dab at the mess in the way his Lordship liked him to, but fingers had the linen square in a near death grip, settled in his lap as he gawped.

“There’s nothing to understand,” a fleck of food landed on the small sliver of table between them, and he turned back to shove another spoon of potato into his maw. He’d hardly finished what was in his mouth before he put more in, and in the usual fashion, the pale man pushed down the disgust he felt watching. “You’ll have your things out of the apartment by the end of the week.”

Panic fluttered in Ansel’s chest. “Sire, have I offended you in some way? If I could just have until the end of the mo–”

“End of the week.” The man paused, and looked at Ansel expectantly. The napkin held in his pale, straining fingers. “I’m not an unkind man, Ansel. I’ve given you that long.” He waited a moment, and then cleared his throat meaningfully. The pale man immediately startled, and leaned to pat fabric across the bristled mustache, over the corners of the man’s mouth.

“Sire, your kindness is very well noted, but if you could just–”

The sharp crack of palm hitting flesh hung heavy in the air of the great dining room. The napkin fell from his hand to the Lord’s lap and then tumbled to the floor, and the hand that once held it pressed against the heated sting of pain on his cheek. Bright blue eyes were wide, but it was not so much actual surprise. Not anymore. It wasn't the first time he'd been struck by the old man; he hardly felt the prickle of tears at the back of his eyes anymore. Instead, rage bubbled in his chest. Carefully, he tamped it down.

“If you are so kind, Lord Eversham, then perhaps you could tell me why you have cut my… employment short? Surely, you haven’t grown bored of me?” His voice was soft, pleading, belying the scream of pure hatred trapped behind the perfect teeth that had made him stand out so well among the others he’d been plucked away from.

“Why should there be any reason? I am done with you. I am done paying for your upkeep when I could as easily go down to the peasantry and–” For Ansel, the words melted into a painful drone of meaningless noise.

The lavish surroundings seemed to rot in his vision. Rich tapestries were tatters of monkscloth, golden filigree was filth rubbed into the cracks of worm eaten wood. He leaned back away from the man that had built this palace of illusion, and found him, too, wanting. Where before the promise of a stipend, a place to live, a lifestyle had stayed his tongue, now there was none. He stood quickly, violently enough to scatter the chair behind him, and stilled a trembling hand. It was only then that he realized the man was still speaking. Still, he understood none of it, could only make out how the aged jowls wobbled with each nonsensical noise that was vomited from the old Lord’s mouth. He took a swift step forward, surprising Eversham enough he stopped speaking.

“You will give me a month. No less. And only then will you never hear from me again.”

“Is that a threat?”

“It is a promise, my Lord. I will speak of–” He was interrupted by a sharp laugh, cracked and loud as the baying of one of the man’s precious hunting hounds.

“You think your words will harm me? I, who uplifted a young man from the gutters, selling himself to the highest bidder for the night, took him in and tried so very hard to teach him to be a pillar of society? I, who am gently releasing him into the world to unfold his wings? Who do you think they will believe, whore? You’ve done nothing but spend my money, and what have you to show for it?” Lord Eversham scoffed and snorted, and Ansel felt a fleck of something hit the back of his hand.

He wasn’t aware of how tenuous the thread keeping him together was. Later, he would wonder at how that sensation, the disgust that followed, was what set such terrible things into motion.

It started with that first thud of skull to table that rattled dishes, silverware, and a pitcher of wine he’d always found to be sour. A spatter of potatoes that smashed beneath the man’s face. The willowy man’s pale and elegant fingers were deep in the thick of the Lord’s greying hair, grasping like he had the napkin. The first slam came with a cry of pain, of surprise. The second, the third, the fourth– they came with less and less struggle as blood spattered further across the table in wet crunches reaching out like crimson fingers seeking help.

He wasn’t sure how many times he’d slammed the old man’s head into the table, only that eventually, the flailing of arms went limp, and he could feel the sticky gore cooling on his skin. All at once, he let go, panting heavily, and took a wobbly step back. It was far from the first time he’d seen a dead body. Deceased by his own hands, even. Still, he should have felt… horror, perhaps. Something. Anything. What he was left with… was nothing at all. He choked out a wretched noise and fell back against the table, staring at the closed door that led to the dining room. He expected armed guards to swarm in at any moment, for them to take him away and put him to trial.



Would he be burned alive? Torn limb from limb from limb from– Bile rose in his throat. However it happened, the pain of the death they chose couldn’t compare to the hell that awaited him when his body gave out. Air turned to sludge in his lungs as he gasped for breath, and a hand clawed at his chest, his throat, as he pushed himself away from the table, the corpse face down in a half-eaten meal. Desperately, he sought an exit. A door would lead only to death. He looked to great windows, and immediately balked– in the bright of day, he’d certainly be seen scrambling across the gardens, covered in…

His attention swung immediately to the door as it opened, and fear seized his heart, squeezed and threatened to crush it when he saw the face of the late Lord’s young wife. She paused in the doorway, and he thought, for a moment, she might faint as her eyes traveled slowly from his white shirt stained in the lifeblood of her husband to the man himself. A heavy silence hung in the air as she stared, then looked back to him.

“Is he truly–”

“I’m so s–”

“I suppose I will take tea in my suite,” she interrupted, a hand settling on her swollen belly. “You had better hurry along. It will be rather hectic soon enough.” She took a step back, and closed the door so very quietly it hardly made a noise at all. Ansel started toward the door to stop her, but a pained cry somewhere deeper in the house stilled his hand before he could reach it. A scream, a thud… And then a call for the doctor, the midwife…

A distraction. He took a deep, cleansing breath… waited for the hustle of feet to pass and disappear…

And pushed out of the dining room, running for the empty kitchens, and the freedom beyond.

After all… he now had less than a week to flee the province.
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